Mālama: The teaching that advisors should consider when booking Hawai‘i

Mālama: The teaching that advisors should consider when booking Hawai‘i

The Pacific longed for the return of us Aussie travellers and after the days of COVID we’ve arrived, thongs and all!

Particularly in Hawai‘i where the surge of travellers has sparked a discussion amongst locals about developing a model of tourism that is respective, regenerative and creates an unforgettable experience for all – locals included. Luckily, this is where the concept of mālama comes in to create an equilibrium between land, local and traveller. mālama literally means to take care of, tend, attend, care for, preserve and protect.

So we decided to catch up with a few Hawai’ian travel experts to shed some light on the golden topic. Karishma Chowfin, the director of sales at O’ahu Visitors Bureau; Maile Brown, the director of marketing at Kaua’i Visitors Bureau; and June Pagdilao, the director of sales at Maui Visitors & Convention Bureau all caught up with Travel Weekly on a relaxed afternoon to have a chat.

All three spoke to us about the importance of seeking mindful travellers to Hawai‘i, with mālama at the heart of this.

L-R: Brown, Pagdilao & Chowfin (Supplied)

“(Mālama) is about connecting the dots for the travel advisor to the destination to the consumer to perpetuate that (concept of) mindful travel (and) leaving the place better than when you arrived,” Chowfin told Travel Weekly.

For some, this means engaging with voluntourism experiences and programs across the archipelago. While for others, it means practising regenerative tourism – leaving your destination in a better condition than you left it in. 

This could be as simple as replanting trees after visiting an area. Chowfin also told Travel Weekly that a visitor experience that champions mālama could mean crafting your holiday to enhance the residents’ quality of life.

On O’ahu, many travellers want to go to the North Shore, but they may not be staying on the North Shore. Chowfin advised that travellers could visit throughout the work week so that local residents could enjoy their beaches and backyards during their downtime on the weekend.

Talking to Brown about mālama, she mentioned the Destination Management Action Plans (DMAP) which Hawai’i Tourism Authority established in partnership with the counties and the respective island visitors bureau.

The beautiful and unique landscape of coastal O’ahu, Hawai‘i

“As part of (the DMAPs) they had steering committees for each islands. Community members got together and they said, ‘Okay, how do we balance the economics of tourism, with the well-being of our community and our natural resources?’” Brown told Travel Weekly.

Brown said that the committees established what the hot-button issues were and discussed how they can be navigated in order to find a balance. Each destination has its own manager who oversees their island’s DMAP and examines issues such as over-tourism, environmental sustainability, clean up and much more – depending on the island. This can work twofold, by boosting the quality of the destination while incentivising and attracting mindful travellers who crave connection with their holiday spot of choice.

With all this in mind, how can travel agents utilise this to send their conscious clients on ethical trips?

Pagdilao said that before agents send their clients to Hawai‘i they need to “know before you go.” This includes emphasising the importance of making reservations ahead of time, educating clients on mālama, fostering communication with the respective island visitor bureaus and leaving your destination the way it was when you arrived.

So, if Hawai‘i is on the lips of your clients then consider the locals and book travel in a way that champions mālama and mindful tourism.

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